I operate primarily on the spine and spinal cord...I also do brain surgery for trauma.

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NAME

Eli

JOB TITLE

Neurospine surgeon/Neurosurgeon

LOCATION

Los Angeles, CA

SALARY

$200,000 +

NUMBER OF YEARS IN THE FIELD

6.5 years

COMPANY

Cedars Sinai Medical

Education

Temple University, 1995-1999
MD,

Career Bio

The profession

In my case college, then 4 years of med school, 7 years of neurosurgery residency and two fellowships afterwards: total of 8.5 years of training beyond med school. Endurance, an ability to get the job done, dexterity and understanding of anatomy are required.

How I got here

Always had a drive for challenge, loved biology and was fascinated by the nervous system.

A typical day

I operate primarily on the spine and spinal cord. This entails treating problems with the structure of the spinal column like fractures, disc herniations and scoliosis in addition to intrinsic spinal cord problems like spinal cord tumors. I also do brain surgery for trauma: I take out blood clots that are causing pressure in the brain and I fix skull fractures. Two days a week I see patients, three days a week I operate. Typically I round at 6:30 am and am operating by 7:30 am. I tend to do three to 6 cases a day when I’m operating and I’m done anywhere between 4 and 10 pm. I also teach, write books and publish papers.

The hardest parts

Decision making can be tough. Especially with sick patients. Sometimes the best surgical plans go to waste as the patient is unsuitable for the operating room secondary to coexisting medical comorbidities which means sometimes people have multiple illnesses such as diabetes or being massively overweight and this leads to what would be a relatively easy procedure turning into a medical nightmare. Thus the decision to operate must be made very carefully weighing many factors beyond a brain or spine problem.

The best parts

Seeing you make a difference, whether its someone in pain being pain free, or a person who you evaluated with a neurologic deficit (e.g. weakness) who has substantially improved. I also remove a lot of tumors. That can be very rewarding.

Advice for someone thinking about going into the field

Study hard and hunker down. It’s a long road ahead and the competition is fierce.